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Property Management Blog

Managing Maintenance Costs


System - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When managing a rental property there is no getting around the need for maintenance. Frequently the owners, amidst their frustration, fault the tenants for every maintenance issue that arises. Regardless of how quality your tenants are there will be items that will fall into disrepair. Appliances fail, A/C’s require annual maintenance, hot water heaters malfunction and plumbing may require service. No matter how well the home is maintained, every tenant that we place is stepping into a home with an unknown amount of wear and tear. Tenants will be charged for any maintenance requests that are determined to be negligence. Outside of tenant culpability repairs will be required to be handled post-haste. Here are a few things to be aware of.

Plan for expenses.

The national average for annual maintenance is reported at 1.5 times the monthly rent. This estimate can be as much as 2 times the monthly rent for older homes. Knowing that these figures exist you must prepare for them to arise so you are not caught with your pants down once they do. This amount does not include the cost of re-leasing the property once your first tenant has vacated. The tenant will incur a few costs toward the re-leasing process such as thorough cleaning of the home, professional carpet cleaning, Chimney cleaning and inspection as well as repairs of any damages outside of normal wear and tear. There will be cases where the tenant’s security deposit may not cover the expense in its entirety. Situations like eviction are the biggest contributor to this scenario. As long as we set our expectations that maintenance costs will arise we will be prepared for them when they do and have an unexpected reprieve if they do not. It is always safest to budget accordingly.

Familiarize yourself with the local laws.

When handling maintenance requests it is imperative to be familiar with the local legislation to avoid any unnecessary trips to the courthouse. The VRLTA is the governing document that dictates what types of maintenance is compulsory and what is optional. It will also guide you on what types of contractors must be used for certain jobs. Not being aware of the regulations can get you into a lot of trouble. Pleading ignorance will not be an acceptable defense if ever you find yourself standing in front of a judge. The Ron Sawyer Team Property Management is well versed in the terms and guidelines represented by the VRLTA. Having professional representation can save you a ton of money in addition to preventing headaches.

Happy tenants are long term tenants.

In property management tenant retention is the key. A long term tenant reduces the costs of re-leasing the property and the loss of rental income due to vacancy. In addition to keeping happy tenants handling maintenance requests in a timely manner can also encourage the tenants to take better care of the property themselves. If you exhibit a pride in ownership, so will they. The contrary is also true. Property neglect will only serve to encourage tenants to reconsider their lodgings once the lease expires. Even worse, the tenants may feel resentment leading to property neglect on their behalf. In either scenario you are losing hundreds if not thousands of dollars in turnover expenses.

Don’t waste time handling repairs.

When a tenant signs a lease they are entering into an agreement that the residence will remain habitable throughout the entirety of the lease. As an owner you are giving them the guarantee that the home will remain suitable for occupancy. Tenants want to feel safe in the property and confident that all of the basic features of the property will continue to function. They want to know that in summer they have cooled air, in winter they will have heat, after a hard day’s work that they will have hot water for a shower. Failure to provide these things will only result in the tenants becoming frustrated. Temporary loss of any of these items will be forgiven as long as they are addressed quickly. If the resolution takes longer than necessary or the outages are too frequent you will find yourself back on the rental market once the lease expires.

Maintenance at turnover

In order for a property to be made rent ready at turnover several things have to happen. The yard needs to be in good condition, the carpets and home need to be cleaned professionally, all existing appliances must function as they were intended, the electric and plumbing must be in working order, the paint in the property must be in good clean condition and the home must have the locks changed. Some of these items will be the tenants responsibility. All in all the cost of turning over the property between tenants can range from a couple hundred dollars up to near a thousand. This does not include the rent lost from vacancy either. This makes very clear the benefit of retaining tenants whenever possible.


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Chesapeake VA 23320
Phone: 757-447-2877
Fax: 757-276-5298

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